EVE: The Empyrean Age Review

EVE: Empyrean AgeIt’s been a long time coming, both this book and my review of it.   I originally received my hardbound copy many weeks ago, but haven’t had time to put a serious effort into finishing it until now.

It’s a first effort for Tony Gonzales, a man who I’ve had the great fortune of meeting at both of the Fanfests I’ve attended, and one of the rare people in the world that I would classify as a friend even after only a handful of meetings. He’s no stranger to the EVE backstory though, and this is entirely evident throughout the novel.

The Empyrean Age might intially seem to be a daunting novel for someone who’s not an EVE player, but I’d like to put it to rest right up front that this is not the case.  It may help to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the game’s story, but any pertinent details are given in the book, enough that even someone with no experience in EVE will be able to follow more than easily.  That’s no small feat, and here it’s executed nicely.

The story follows a lot of characters, but probably most central to the narrative is that of an Amarrian who is salvaged from the wreckage of his ship with no memory of who he is or his past.    That might sound intially cliche, but works to the reader’s service as it also serves as a central point from which we learn details of the universe the story takes place in.

The larger scope of the story involves characters from all four of the factions in the EVE cluster, as their leaders and people try to work towards their own goals and ambitions.  Outside influences are orchestrating events which rapidly spiral out of control, and could lead to all out war between the factions.  It’s pulled off well overall, and ties in extremely well with events from the game leading up to the those in the book, and subsequent fiction that has appeared on the EVE website.

The book is definitely not for kids, with a lot of very adult concepts and events happening in the story.  There’s also a fair share of heavy political intrigue, which provides an excellent balance to the smaller scale events and the larger scale results.  It’s hard not to get caught up in the story, especially as the climax nears and it shifts between all the various facets of the plot.

I only had one real complaint with the story itself.  Myself personally, I like to have an element of surprise to the outcome of things in a book such as this, and while that is largely the case there are several instances where the reader is plainly told how something is going to play out.

It’s almost like one of those moments in movies where the good guys all stand around a table and lay out their plans for the viewer, which essentially unfold as the final half our of the film.  It’s not quite so obvious in The Empyrean Age, but it’s enough to crank the tension down a notch when you know what’s going to happen.

In the end this is a spectacular first effort by Mr. Gonzales, and its accessibility for all readers means that regular sci-fi buffs will find a lot to like here.    No doubt this will be a gateway to the game itself for a lot of people.

It’s earned a spot on my bookshelf, but now it looks all lonely.  I can’t wait for more.

3 thoughts on “EVE: The Empyrean Age Review”

  1. I’ve really enjoyed it so far. I’m seriously only about 80 pages or so from the end, but I’ve just been too busy to finish. I may well stay up late(r) tonight and tear through the rest. I’ve got two friends who don’t even play EVE that want to borrow it once I’m through to see what it’s like. I wouldn’t mind just giving my paperback copy away in that case and getting a new hardcover for my collection.

  2. I’m also at the beginning of the novel and love it so far.

    I met Tony at the Fanfest Party and the guy was surprised a bit (or very humble) that I loved the book so far. He mentioned a nasty review on Amazon.

    Let’s make sure to head over to Amazon once we’re done reading EA and write a review about. Blinky, you could just COPY/PASTE this post as a review.

    Let’s show Tony some love! The guy deserves it!

    CK

  3. I heard Tony presnetations at Fanfest, he’s a great speaker. I was really impressed by his passion for the IP, and his honestly about some of the novel’s short-comings.

    It was terribly edited. Not really his fault.

    It was light on character development due to the sheer volume of necessary plot crammed in there.

    I think it was this character development that gave me problems with the book. Typical story elements – the amnesiac hero, the damage child – didn’t have on-page time to develop fully, so (for me) came across more as cliches rather than strong hooks to drag me into the story. Just a little more focus here and there might have swung the balance for me.

    Still, however I look at it EA was a very brave first move by CCP and Tony into game-world fiction. Massive first novel, at a focal point of into an ongoing storyline, providing the rationale for a significant game feature. It’s a tribute to Tony and CCP’s commitment to EA and the IP that the book works as well as it does.

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